LEGAL/POLICY

Gulf States Threaten Legal Action Against ‘Offensive’ Netflix

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By Jonathan Easton

The Gulf Arab states have called on Netflix to remove content that it has deemed offensive to local culture.

Saudi Arabia’s media regulator and the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), has issued a statement demanding that the streamer removes content that is offensive to “Islamic and societal values”.

Without specifying any shows or movies in particular, they said that the content violated media regulations in the Gulf Cooperation Council and that “necessary legal measures will be taken,” should the offending content not be removed.”

The UAE, generally more liberal with its social policies, also issued its own statement, saying that it would “assess its commitment to broadcasting controls” in the country, and look into Netflix’s content offering in the coming days.

During a programme discussing the news, Saudi state-run news channel Al-Ekhbariya condemned “movies and series for children with scenes promoting homosexuality under a dramatic cover via Netflix”.

This is not the first time that homophobia in the Middle East has moved to censor content from a major US studio. Disney faced a pair of clashes with regulators earlier this year when it refused to remove references to characters being gay in Pixar animated feature Lightyear and in Marvel blockbuster Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

The region’s attitudes will once again be highlighted later this year when the FIFA World Cup comes to Qatar, with the state failing to give a guarantee of safety to LGBTQ+ fans.

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